Yechiel N. Engelhard, MD, MBA, MHA – Part II

Expert Perspective
Yechiel N. Engelhard, MD, MBA

Expert Perspectives on Technology in Health Care: Part II

Yechiel N. Englehard, MD, MBA, MHA

Physician Entrepreneur
Former CEO and Founder of Gecko Health Inc.
Former Global Head of Digital Health at Teva Pharmaceuticals

Dr Englehard continues his discussion on the use of technology to improve delivery of health care in Part II of this series, “Expert Perspectives on Technology in Health Care.” Refer to Part I for Dr Englehard’s guidance on barriers to the uptake of health-related technology, as well as how technology can empower patients to take better control of their mental health.


How can healthcare practitioners better engage their patients to consider using technology as part of their treatment plans?


Ease of use should be a point of emphasis because technology for patients should not be different than any other technology we use in our daily lives. We know that creating a solution that can address real needs and solve a real problem will provide better and longer engagement. When providers can offer a friendlier consumer solution, we see a short-term change with patient behavior (eg, real-time blood glucose monitoring creates a more aware patient with a better experience). Long-term change can happen both for the provider and the patient when the problem and the solution are clear. In those cases, we find faster adoption and implementation by the patients and their physicians.

Providers and the healthcare system need to be more involved and proactive about technological solutions. One great example I saw was at Ochsner Health System, where kiosks were created in waiting areas for patients to access before their appointments and physicians prescribed devices and applications for patients when they left the clinic. This model includes ease of use and friendly onboarding while reassuring patients that there is better access to the data by their provider. There is a clinical benefit, and some real action will be taken as part of the treatment process.


Can you provide some examples of the successful implementation of technology in psychiatric practice?


There is a wide range of solutions from basic mental wellness through digital treatments. Interesting companies are Akili Interactive, which offers digital therapeutics, and Lyra Health, which is a platform that offers access to behavioral healthcare for suicide and depression conditions.

Some of the companies in the healthcare technology space that show growing traction are Talkspace, a behavioral health platform that connects users to licensed therapists; Quartet, a platform that enables providers to collaborate on treatment plans and provide concierge-type of support for patients; Pear Therapeutics, a portfolio of clinically validated, software-based therapeutics (it has 2 products in the market that address substance use disorder and opioid use disorder); and Calm, which is more on the mind and wellness side and is an application for sleep, meditation, and relaxation.

I also see a growing use of artificial intelligence tools in the healthcare technology space. Some of the more interesting uses of data are to identify low-adherence patients in advance and to identify patients with a high probability for addiction.


What future research needs to be performed to address unmet needs in the healthcare technology space?


More evidence-based controlled studies are needed to support standardization and to measure objective outcomes and quality of service. This will allow payers and providers to have better understanding of the value that healthcare technology can bring and build better trust of the system to implement the solutions. Healthcare technology will eventually be aimed at the right patients who can benefit most from services and products based on technology and will help to build a clearer return-on-investment model.